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by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 12, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: How long do most people in Arlington live in their home before selling?

Answer: Arlington’s transient nature leads to a much shorter length of home ownership than the rest of the US.

The average homeowner lives in his or her house/apartment for an average of 9.4 years (median 7.2 years) while the national long-run average is 13.3 years, according to this study from the National Association of Home Builders.

I was curious if certain factors like condo vs. single-family or number of bedrooms has an impact on the average length of home ownership in Arlington. Below I pulled over 3,200 recent homes sales, excluding investment properties, in Arlington and looked at the impact different factors have on average length of ownership.

Key Takeaways

  • Property type, number of bedrooms, purchase price and location have surprisingly little influence on the length of home ownership
  • Property age has the biggest impact on length of ownership. Owners of homes built before 1990 stayed for 10.4 years while owners of homes built since 1990 average just 6.8 years.
  • One may draw the conclusion that homeowners living in the 22205 zip code are the happiest with their neighborhood and neighbors, staying put an average of 2.4 years longer than the rest of Arlington homeowners (Kautter would agree)
  • Of all 3,200+ data points, the longest length of home ownership was 55.8 years in… you guessed it… 22205! There were eight owners who lived in the same home for over 50 years (four of them in 22205!). 10% of the owners lived in their home for 20+ years.

People paying over $1.5M for their home stay an average of 2.4 years less than those buying homes under $1.5M

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 5, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Does the amount of money I put down have an impact on how much I can negotiate the purchase price?

Answer: In a multiple offer situation, the amount of your down payment may be the difference in whether or not your offer is accepted, but in non-competitive negotiations, the data shows that it only really matters if you’re putting 0% down or paying 100% cash.

From 1% down to 99% down, there isn’t a strong correlation between the amount of a down payment and a buyer’s bargaining power.

Data Set

Below is a data table of 3,192 home sales in Arlington since 2017, inclusive of any closing cost credit paid by the seller, excluding new construction and any sales with a purchase price above the list price.

Note: loan data is manually entered into the MLS by the seller’s agent and is not quality checked so there is some level of human error, but with nearly 3,200 data points the sample size mostly off-sets incorrect entries. I also cleaned up a handful of data points that were clearly wrong.

Key Findings & Notes

  • Buyers putting 0% down are clearly at a disadvantage in negotiations and buyers paying all cash (thus no financing or appraisal contingencies) negotiate nearly 1% more off the list price (avg 2.89% off) than all other buyers (avg 1.96% off)
  • The most surprising data point is that buyers putting 1-4% down negotiate more off the list price than every other range except all-cash. I believe this is due these buyers also putting a high priority on negotiating seller-paid closing costs in the deal, thus many buyers will only purchase homes that sellers are willing to negotiate on. Only 20% of these buyers paid full price.
  • The second most surprising data point is that 25% of Arlington buyers paid all-cash. Reader and frequent ARLnow commenter, Dave Schutz, noted this from the numbers in last week’s column on VA loans. Cash buyers tend to purchase less expensive homes, with the majority of cash purchases being condos, below the average market price (likely many investors). Also, many of the single-family homes purchases for cash are developers.
  • 0% down loans are almost exclusively VA (Veteran Affairs) loans and 100% down refers to all-cash purchases

Why Put More Down?

If you don’t gain any leverage negotiating your purchase price by putting more money down, why should you?

Mortgage insurance is a big reason, which can add hundreds of dollars per month to loans with less than 20% down.

This is where having a great financial team can be helpful. Not only does that mean a lender who will take the time to advise you on your loan options, but I also suggest involving your financial advisor and/or accountant in this decision to determine the impact of different loan structures on your personal finances.

Bottom Line

It may come as a surprise to many that buyers with less money to put down (seemingly less qualified) have similar bargaining power as buyers putting 50% or more down, but the bottom line is that sellers are focused on the probability that a buyer will be able to close the deal they’re offering on time. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 29, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Are Funding Fees on VA loans eligible for seller credits?

Answer: Loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs are known as VA Loans and provide current and former Service-members with an opportunity to purchase a home with as little as 0% down.

In addition to the normal closing costs (title fees, transfer taxes, etc), a Funding Fee is charged at settlement, which is equal to anywhere from 1.25-3.3% of the loan amount, depending on size of down payment, type of service and whether or not it’s the borrower’s first time using the VA loan program.

It’s a fee paid to the VA on every loan to offset the cost of loans that default (similar to Mortgage Insurance on non-VA loans). Disabled veterans are eligible to have the entire fee waived.

In a previous column, I explained how buyers can negotiate for seller credits to reduce or eliminate the out-of-pocket expense of closing costs at settlement. Fortunately, the Funding Fee falls into this category, along with the rest of the standard closing costs associated with a VA loan, and buyers are eligible to have all of these costs covered by the seller.

In theory, if a buyer is able to negotiate 100% of closing costs paid by the seller and chooses a 0% down payment loan, a home can be purchased cash-free.

If you’re unable to negotiate seller credits to cover the Funding Fee and are concerned about having the cash to pay for closing costs, you’re also allowed to roll the Funding Fee into your mortgage so that it becomes part of your monthly payment.

Arlington Veterans Affairs (VA) loans by the numbers:

  • In 2017, 261 of 3,130 buyers (8.3%) used a VA loan. By comparison, 2,173 used a Conventional loan (69.4%).
  • The average purchase price for homes purchased using a VA loan was just over $615,751.
  • 38% of VA loans were used to purchase a condo, 29% to purchase a townhouse, and 33% to purchase a single-family home.
  • On average, buyers using a VA loan negotiated 2.3% off the original asking price. By comparison, buyers using a Conventional loan negotiated 2.2% off the original asking price and cash buyers negotiated 4% off the original asking price.

I hope the veterans and active duty military readers had a great Memorial Day Weekend. Thank you for your service!

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 22, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We purchased our home a long time ago and cannot remember how closing costs are distributed between buyers and sellers. Can you explain who pays closing costs in a home sale and which terms are negotiable?

Answer: Certain fees and taxes vary by state and locality, but it is customary in Virginia, D.C., and Maryland for each side to cover the taxes and fees associated with their portion of the transaction and the seller to pay the commission to both the broker/agent representing them and the broker/agent representing the buyer.

Sellers pay about .25% of purchase price, plus whatever commission they’ve agreed to, in closing costs. Buyers pay about 2.5-3% of purchase price in closing costs. I’ll detail the standard closing costs on each side of a home sale for transactions in Arlington VA:

Sellers

All of the fees/taxes listed below are automatically deducted from the buyer’s payment so you do not pay any of these out-of-pocket, except for the resale package if your home is part of an HOA or condo building.

  • Commission: Sellers traditionally cover the commission for their representing broker/agent and offer a commission to the buyer’s representing broker/agent. As with every industry, rates vary by provider and type of service.
  • Title Fees: This covers the legal review and preparation of the sale documents and usually runs about $500-$1,000.
  • Transaction Taxes: Arlington charges sellers a Grantor’s Tax and Congestion Relief Tax totaling .25% of purchase price.
  • Prorations: You may owe or be credited property taxes or HOA/Condo fees, based on the status of your tax payment.
  • Resale Package: If your home is in an HOA or condo building you are required to provide the buyer with a resale package including by-laws, reserve balance, Association inspection, etc.. This fee varies by community but is usually $100-$250.

Buyers

All of the fees/taxes listed below are included in your costs due at closing (day of purchase), except the appraisal, inspection costs and in some cases a condo questionnaire, which are all paid out-of-pocket while you’re under contract. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 15, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We are planning to buy a home in the DC area sometime in the next 12-24 months and want to make sure we take that time to prepare. What should we know before buying a house that we can get started with now?

Answer: Whether you’re a first-time buyer, experienced buyer relocating from out-of-state, or moving locally here’s a list of things I review and plan out with clients before getting into the full swing of house hunting:

Local Customs, Requirements, Timelines and Contracts

The home-buying process varies greatly across and within states. I think the most important thing you can do as a buyer is take an hour at the beginning of your buying process to become educated on the process, timelines and key contractual terms/obligations in the area(s) you plan to search.

This is also a good way to meet and vet different real estate agents early on to get a feel for who is willing to spend time with you up-front on education and planning vs pushing immediately for a sale.

Choose the Right Financing, Get Pre-Approved

Not all lenders offer the same loan products so it’s important to identify a lender who not only provides high quality service, but also has access to loan products that fit your profile (down payment, credit score, job industry, etc). Real estate agents, friends, and co-workers are all great sources of recommendations.

You’ll also want to get a pre-approval from at least one lender, one that actually reviews and verifies your financial documents, income and employment instead of just running credit and reviewing an information sheet.

This will decrease the chances of you being rejected from a loan, allow the lender to provide the most accurate recommendation, increase your leverage in contract negotiations and reduce the amount of work required of you once you’re under contract.

Don’t Forget A Monthly Budget

I find that most people qualify for more than they actually want to spend, especially dual-income buyers, so budgeting is important.

The biggest mistake most buyers make is budgeting strictly around the sale price, which is often driven by the amount you have for a down payment. It’s just as important to set a monthly budget for total housing expenses including mortgage, taxes, insurance and if applicable Association fees and/or mortgage insurance.

Your lender can help you project monthly expenses at different price points based on different down payment amounts. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 8, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: How long does it usually take to close on a home purchase/sale after an offer has been accepted?

Answer: If a loan is being used to purchase the home, expect the time from offer acceptance (ratification) to closing (purchase/sale) to take 30-45 days and a week or less if it is a cash purchase.

The average closing period in Arlington from 2010-2017 was 42 days and the median closing period was 36 days. Keep in mind that includes sales with a seller rent-back period which can extend closing for months.

As a general rule of thumb, a quick close is anything under 30 days, with some lenders able to close in as little as two weeks, and anything over 40 days is generally considered a delayed closing around here. With the majority of sellers preferring to sell as quickly as possible, quick closings are a great way to help your offer stand out.

Below are the three elements of most real estate transactions that determine how quickly a home can be sold after an offer is accepted:

Financing (14-45+ days)

One of the biggest differences between financing through large national banks and a local lender tends to be the speed they can close a deal.

Most of the big banks I’ve worked with struggle to close in less than 35-40 days, often asking for 45 days, which can really compromise a buyer’s negotiation leverage in a competitive market. On the other hand, many local lenders have no problem closing in 3-4 weeks, with some able to close in two weeks under the right circumstances.

Appraisal: All lenders require an appraisal, which usually takes 1-3 for the final appraisal report to be submitted.

Timelines vary based on how busy the market is (how booked up appraisers are), how quickly the request is made and whether it is requested as a rush order. With interest rates increasing over the last 12 months, refinancing has dropped significantly, thus freeing up appraisers’ schedules for purchases and allowing for faster turn-around times.

Underwriting: Underwriting is the lender’s review of the borrower’s financial information, property information, Association information (if applicable) and any other relevant facts they need to determine whether or not they will approve/fund the loan.

Buyers play a big role in how quickly this process moves by responding quickly to any lender requests for new or updated documents or explanations. Once a loan has been approved by underwriting, there is a mandatory three-day loan terms review period the buyer is required to have before the property is purchased.

Title Review (3-7+ days)

Before a property is sold, a Title Company or attorney specializing in the field will order a title search and (usually) a survey of the property to check is there are any outstanding claims against the ownership of the property (liens), no issues with property boundaries or other red flags that may impact the ability of the owner to transfer the property’s title free and clear.

This process generally takes anywhere from a few days to a week, as long as there aren’t any issues that need to be resolved. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 1, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Can a seller back-out of a home purchase contract?

Answer: Sellers have practically no way out of a home sale contract in Northern Virginia (or DC), but buyers have multiple opportunities to void an agreement without risking their deposit. The most common ways for a seller to get out of a home sale contract are:

  • Kickout Clause: Kickout clauses allow the seller to give the buyer notice that they intend to void the agreement if the buyer does not perform a specific action. The most common example of this is when a purchase is contingent on the buyer selling their home. Sellers can give a buyer notice of their intention to void if the buyer does not provide a bona-fide contract on the sale of their home or remove the home sale contingency all together. If the buyer fulfills either requirements, the seller must remain under contract and cannot void.
  • Buyer Default: If a buyer falls into default of their contractual obligations such as not making their required deposit on time or not applying for their loan on time (7 days), the seller may void the contract.
  • Technicality: A seller who really wants to back-out of a contract may look through the agreement for a missing initial or some other contractual technicality in an attempt to claim the contract was never formally ratified. This isn’t very reliable and I would not recommend any seller rely on this method.

Buyers (Usually) Have Outs

On the other hand, most contracts afford buyers multiple opportunities to void a purchase contract without losing their deposit. This includes the home inspection, financing and appraisal contingencies found in many contracts.

Also, if the property is located in an Association (condo or HOA/POA), buyers have a non-negotiable right to void within three days of receiving the required resale/Association package (by-laws, budget, rules & regs, etc).

Voiding Without Cause

If a buyer voids a purchase agreement outside of the legal means (contingencies) of the contract, they risk losing up to 100% of their deposit, which is usually 1-3% of the sale price.

However, sellers are not required to make a similar type of deposit as security for performance under the terms of the contract. If a seller decides to back out of an agreement without cause, the buyer is faced with a decision to accept the seller’s decision and walk away, accept a buy-out/settlement from the seller (if offered), or take legal action and sue for specific performance (force the sale) or financial remedy.

As a buyer, you hold the cards and command the most leverage over the purchase agreement remaining in force or being voided.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 24, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: A few of our friends who bought homes recently told us that we should expect to use an Escalation Clause/Addendum when we make an offer, if we want our offer accepted. Is that your experience and is there a better way of making a competitive offer?

Answer: I thought this would be an appropriate follow-up column to last week’s column on the dangerously under-supplied housing market and it’s also become a frequent topic of conversation with clients.

With so much competition for hard-to-find homes that have just come to market, it’s critical for buyers to understand the purpose and risk/reward of using Escalation Clauses/Addendums in their offer.

Please note that this column is specific to contracts in Northern VA; Maryland and DC contracts vary in language and use.

What Is An Escalation Clause/Addendum (EA)?

An EA allows you to make an offer at a starting price while agreeing to increase your offer to a higher price if another offer is higher than yours. It includes a ceiling/maximum escalation value and an escalation factor, the amount your offer will increase by, over the next highest offer.

The contract allows for the seller to execute a purchase contract (ratify) at an escalated value, without the buyer having to agree to the new price. However, to protect buyers, the seller is required to deliver the next highest contract that was used to escalate your offer.

That other offer must also be materially similar, meaning the other offer cannot include seller credits or a material difference in contingencies (e.g. the other buyer has to sell a home before buying this one).

When To Use an EA

EAs are best used when there are multiple confirmed or expected offers and the seller has set a deadline, asking for best-and-final. It is very common in our market for sellers to set an offer deadline after their first full weekend on market and often those deadlines are set with the expectation that all offers will be best-and-final and the seller will make a decision shortly after the deadline, without any back-and-forth with buyers.

Buyers are often skeptical of this practice and assume that sellers will come back for more negotiating anyway, but in my experience, most sellers stick with the plan and a buyer who leaves something on the table is often informed that another offer was selected. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 17, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We have been searching for a home for over 6 months and have expanded both our criteria and budget, but still not finding something we like. We have heard that the housing supply is low, is that true for Arlington?

Answer: The housing supply shortage in Arlington is a big problem and it’s not just Arlington that is feeling the pain, it’s most of Northern VA and the greater DC Metro (nationwide as well).

You’re not alone in your experience either, we have a handful of clients who have been looking for the better part of a year while also expanding their search area and budget, but unhappy with what’s available.

So, is the housing shortage mostly anecdotal and buyers are just too picky or to cheap? Nope… here are some charts that highlight the alarmingly low housing inventory in Arlington:

Eight Consecutive Quarters of Fewer Homes For Sale, Year over Year (YoY)

After seven straight quarters of YoY decreases in the number of homes for sale, Q1 2018 brought us the largest drop in YoY homes for sale with 21.1% fewer homes for sale than Q1 2017, which was already 7.2% lower than the number of homes for sale in Q1 2016. The chart below represents all homes for sale in Arlington.

Existing Housing Supply Would Only Last 1.5 Months

Months of supply measures how long the existing housing inventory would last given the last 6 months of demands (absorption). Most economists say that 4-6 months of supply represents a well balance housing market and Arlington has hovered around 1.5 months of supply for the last 6 months.

I broke out the chart below by housing type (detached, townhouse, and condo) to highlight the fact that the problem exists across all housing types, but town-homes have historically been the least supplied type of housing in Arlington.

Good Homes Are Selling Much Faster

This chart shows the YoY change in the number of homes sold within the first 10 days on market, which has increased the last six quarters in a row. There was an impressive 53.4% YoY increase from Q1 2016 to Q1 2017, followed by yet another double digit increase in homes sold within the first 10 days from Q1 2017 to Q1 2018. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 10, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What is the role of Business Improvement Districts in Arlington?

Answer: The Business Improvement Districts (BID) of Rosslyn, Ballston and Crystal City deserve much of the credit for turning these neighborhoods from convenient places to work to lively, family-friendly places to live.

Funded primarily by businesses located in the neighborhoods they represent, BIDs are an important bridge between residents, businesses and local government. Homeowners located in or near any of these BIDs can thank their leadership teams for increasing the value of their homes.

As a long-time Rosslyn resident, I have watched as Mary-Claire Burick and her team at the Rosslyn BID have transformed Rosslyn over the last five years.

I reached out to her for an interview to answer some questions about the role of BIDs in the community and how residents can take advantage of their influence on local government and business investment. Thank you Mary-Claire!

What is the role of a BID, and what role does the Rosslyn BID play in the community?

Business Improvement Districts are nimble organizations that wear a lot of different hats. In Rosslyn, we work on urban planning, transportation and business and community engagement, just to name a few.

But I think one of the most important roles that we play is that of a convener who brings together the perspectives of various stakeholders in our neighborhood –including residents, businesses and county officials — to advance initiatives that will help our community continue to thrive.

We are in constant conversation with folks on the street, in our restaurants and in our business community to better understand not only what they love about Rosslyn but also what they want to see improved.

How does the Rosslyn BID engage with residents and visitors? 

As I mentioned, community engagement is one of our top priorities.

Probably our most visible presence on a daily basis is our Rosslyn Ambassadors Program. Our team is out on the street five days a week helping residents and visitors with directions and working to ensure our sidewalk and public areas are safe and clean. Be sure to say hello when you see them around the neighborhood in their purple shirts.

Our events are another important way that we connect and engage with area residents. In 2017, around 40,000 people attended more than 160 events that we hosted ranging from our popular Rosslyn Jazz Fest and Rosslyn Cinema series to lunchtime fitness sessions and pop-up concerts. Each one of these events represents a touch point for our team to engage with residents and employees in our region, and for interaction between these groups.

It’s that sense of community that these events help build that makes them so impactful. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 3, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We are buying a home in a few weeks and one of the closing costs is an optional $1,500 for Title Insurance. Do you recommend buying title insurance?

Answer: Yes, I do recommend buying Title Insurance. It’s a one-time fee that protects your ownership in what is likely the most valuable asset you own and you cannot decide to add Title Insurance in the future. However, like any form of insurance, it depends on your appetite for risk.

I’ve asked David Cartner, an attorney with Highland Title & Escrow, to provide a full explanation of the benefits of Title Insurance and some examples of when it would be used. Take it away David…

Do You Really Need Title Insurance?

As a real estate settlement attorney, buyers often ask me if they should purchase title insurance when buying a home. My response is that it depends on what level of risk the buyer is comfortable taking. A purchase of a house or a condominium is usually the biggest investment a person makes in their lifetime. If a buyer does not purchase title insurance, he/she risks losing the entirety of the investment.

Why, then, do buyers question purchasing title insurance when the risk of loss is so high? After all, no one seems to question the need for homeowners or rental insurance. I believe the reason is twofold: (1) buyers do not understand the benefits of purchasing it, and (2) title insurance is unlike other types of insurance in that it covers issues that have already happened.

Indeed, there is a long list of risks covered by title insurance, but basically what the buyer is hedging for are the unknown or hidden hazards that might jeopardize his or her ownership in the home. Hidden hazards may include:

  • Liens that were not revealed in title exam or made known to settlement agent prior to closing. Normally, a title exam reveals any liens on the property which need to be paid off and released prior to closing. If, however, the title examiner overlooked a judgment, tax, or mortgage lien on the property or failed to note it in the title exam, the buyer would be liable to pay the lien incurred by the previous owner.
  • Boundary line issues that an accurate survey would not reveal. For example, if a survey failed to note that a neighbor’s shed encroached on the purchaser’s property, title insurance would cover the cost of removing the shed and resolving any accompanying boundary line dispute.
  • Forgery or lack of authority. If there was a forged signature on the deed in the chain of title, or a person or corporation signed a deed without authority to do so, the transfer of ownership to the buyer would be in question.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 27, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Can you follow-up on last week’s column about condo/townhouse rentals with an analysis on the single-family home rental market in Arlington?

Answer: Thank you to ARLnow commenter Southy4Life for requesting that I follow-up last week’s analysis of the condo/townhouse rental market with a similar analysis of the single-family home (SFH) rental market.

The good news for those looking closely at the rental stats in Arlington is that the majority of SFH rentals are represented in the MLS data presented below, as opposed to a large percentage of condo/apartment rentals not represented in my data last week because most are handled outside of the MLS (commercial rentals, direct landlord-to-tenant).

Five Year Trends

Just like the condo rental market, there has been very little appreciation in rental rates in Arlington’s SFH home rates, until 2017, which saw a noticeable jump led by 22207, 22205 and 22203.

This doesn’t correlate to what we saw in the sales market from 2016 to 2017 so admittedly I don’t know why these three zip codes saw substantial rental growth, while the rest of the Arlington market remained relatively unchanged.

Below is a summary of the average cost of renting a SFH in each Arlington zip code over the last five years. 22206 and 22209 were removed for lack of SFH rental data points.

Bedroom Breakdown

Below is a table of all 3-5 bedroom SFH rentals in Arlington since 2016, broken out by bedroom count and zip code, with rentals in 22206 and 22209 removed for lack of data points. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 20, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: I am moving to Arlington from out of town and not yet ready to buy. I’ve heard the rental market is high in the DC area and wondering approximately how much it costs per bedroom to rent in Arlington.

Answer: I spend a lot of time in this column talking about buying and selling homes in Arlington, but about 54% of the County is renters, so as we head into the busiest rental months, I thought it’d be appropriate to share some helpful statistics on the cost of renting in Arlington.

For the most part, renters tend to be more focused on functional space to meet immediate needs, so I like the idea of using cost per bedroom on rentals more than I do for ownership.

The good news for renters is that developers have added thousands of new rental units over the last 5 years, particularly 1-2 bedroom units in the popular metro areas of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and Crystal/Pentagon City. While the cost of these newer units has increased, it’s kept the cost of renting condos and townhouses from owners pretty stable (or down).

The data I pulled below is primarily made up of non-commercial rental units (condos and townhouses owned by individuals) and restricted to units leased through the MLS (agent database), so only included a portion of the total rental activity in Arlington. I also excluded single family homes from the dataset.

Key Findings:

  • It costs about 40% more to rent a third bedroom than it does to rent a second bedroom
  • Rents have not gone up for one bedroom units, and have only increased about $100/month for two and three bedroom units
  • Most rental units are on the market for 6-7 weeks before being rented
  • There’s not nearly as much negotiating on rentals as there is purchases, with only about 1% or less negotiated off the asking price, on average
  • The least expensive rentals are in the 22204 zip code because there are not any walkable metro stations and the housing inventory tends to be substantially older
  • 22204 is the only zip code where the average rent of a two bedroom is under $2,000/mon and one of only two zip codes (22206) with an average rent under $3,000 for a three bedroom
  • 22209 is the most expensive zip code to rent by a wide margin due to the fact that it hosts two of the most expensive buildings in the DC Metro in Turnberry Tower and Waterview, as well as a host of other high-end buildings. It claims this top spot, despite also hosting one of the least expensive communities in Arlington, River Place.

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by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 13, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Do you think the recent changes to the rankings of Arlington schools on GreatSchools.org will have an impact on home values?

Answer: Sometime in the last few months, GreatSchools.org quietly changed their school ranking criteria, which resulted in a drop in every high school and middle school in Arlington by 1-2 points (10 point scale).

The two biggest K-12 public school ranking websites in the US are Niche.com and GreatSchools.org with about 6M and 4M monthly visits, respectively (SchoolDigger is a distant third with about 500k).

In my experience, buyers in the DC Metro rely more heavily on GreatSchools because Niche lacks differentiation between schools (everybody is a winner). The change in Arlington County Public Schools rankings on GreatSchools is worth noting and I suspect that it will have a negative impact on the housing market.

GreatSchools’ Explanation

In the About section of GreatSchools, they explain the changes in their grading criteria with the following: “In the past, the overall GreatSchools Rating in most states was based on test scores.

In some states*, the GreatSchools Rating was also based on student progress (or “growth”) and college readiness data (SAT/ACT participation and/or performance and/or graduation rates).

Our school profiles now include important information in addition to test scores — factors that make a big difference in how children experience school, such as how much a school helps students improve academically, how well a school supports students from different socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups, and whether or not some groups of students are disproportionately affected by the school’s discipline and attendance policies.

Many of these important themes now have their own rating, and these themed ratings are incorporated into the school’s overall GreatSchools Summary Rating.”

Old vs New Rankings

Below is a table showing the before and after scores for all Arlington County middle and high schools, as well as a limited set of Fairfax County/Falls Church middle and high schools (the ones I had documented scores for before the change).

All “old” scores are as of Fall 2017. Note that my request to GreatSchools for the “old” scores for all Northern VA/DC Metro schools was denied. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 6, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Answer: I am very excited to share with the readers that the Hyde Park Condominium at 4141 N. Henderson Rd, just a few blocks south of the Ballston Metro, successfully voted to change the by-laws to ban smoking in units and on balconies, as well as the already established ban in common areas!

In July 2016, I wrote an article about banning smoking in condos and the reaction from readers both in the comment section and in email exchanges afterwards clearly showed how many condo owners wanted to ban smoking in their buildings.

It is a challenge that only a few Boards have taken on and none have been successful in the way Hyde Park has.

I’d like to congratulate the Hyde Park Board and its residents on a job well done and hopefully paving the way for many more buildings to ban smoking inside and outside of private units in the near future. I firmly believe that this type of ban in condos will increase property values both near and long term.

I’d like to thank Greg Hunter Esq, a local attorney and the Hyde Park Covenants Chair who led the ban, for agreeing to write a column explaining how they accomplished the ban, lessons learned, and other experiences over the last few years.

Below is what Greg wanted to share with the ARLnow readers. It is not intended to be an official statement from Hyde Park.

Hyde Park Smoking Ban, Greg Hunter Esq.

The owners of the Hyde Park Condominium recently passed a bylaw amendment to ban smoking in every part of the property, including private units and balconies.

With over 300 residential units and several ground-level commercial suites, Hyde Park is the first condominium in Arlington to successfully amend their bylaws to go smoke-free.

With the new bylaw, smoking is now banned in every part of Hyde Park, including outdoor areas, private homes and on balconies. There is a limited and non-transferable right for current unit owners to continue to smoke in their own units (grandfather clause), but not on their balconies.

Why A Bylaw Amendment?

Passing a bylaw amendment was not our original goal.

In an ideal world, everyone could live as they wish; any one of us could, if we so desired, smoke cigarettes or rehearse with our metal band or keep peacocks on the balcony and it wouldn’t bother anyone else.

At Hyde Park however, and I suspect every other condominium in the world, one person’s right to enjoy herself does not allow her to annoy her neighbors. We tried a lot of things to solve the problem without a bylaw amendment, including banning smoking in common areas and improving the ventilation systems, but in the end the only effective option we had was a bylaw amendment. (more…)

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